Making Church an Option

While driving to work last Friday morning, I was listening to K-LOVE and one of the morning DJs, Amy, shared an interesting statistic. She said that one-third of the people polled said that going to church was very important to them. She did not share who conducted the poll nor who was among those polled. Either way the statistic is alarming.

If it was a mix of all Americans, then that statistic is very telling. It means that 2 out of 3 Americans do not consider church an important part of their lives. That alone explains many of the ailments in America. At America’s founding, the large majority of Americans not only considered going to church important, but it was also the central cultural influence in their lives.

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Dependent Freedom

This morning I looked up the word independence in my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible index and could not find it. However, I did find the words dependence and freedom. Americans like to consider themselves as a free and independent people. As Christians, we are to consider ourselves dependent of Jesus Christ:

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)

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The Commodity of Heaven

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It is also true that a Christian cannot conduct God’s business, “His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” without faith. As Dr. Charles Fowler recently taught my church during a prayer conference, “Faith is the commodity of heaven.”

Faith is simply trusting God. However, that simple definition can cause much confusion. As is rightly stated in Ewell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, “Faith in God involves right belief about God.” It is vital that we have a biblical view of who God is.

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Mocking Jesus

There are times when I forget that I am going to have to give an account for every action and word I take and speak. Thankfully, God gives me reminders of this eternal truth and one such reminder came yesterday at church.

Our pastor is preaching on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. Yesterday he was reading from Matthew 27 when the reminder came to my mind:

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Living in the Now

If America is going to have a reversal of fortunes, then revival must come first. If revival is to come, it must come through the church. If revival is to come to the church, then it must come from Christians responding to the call of Christ on each of their lives. There is no other magic way it will happen. We must say yes to Jesus.

It’s been nine days since Americans decided who our next president will be, and many feel as though we’ve been given another chance. I believe this to be the case, however, my concern is that we the church will squander it. Do not confuse this mainly as a call for all of you to become more politically active. As a citizen, you should already be doing so.

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A Web of Confusion

We are three weeks from electing a new president. I will be so grateful (if the Lord wills it) to wake up on Wednesday morning, November 9th knowing God is still on the throne. He will be on the throne regardless the outcome of our national election. While many will be shocked and dismayed by the outcome, whatever it is, God will not be among them.

Last week I caught myself entangled in a web of confusion weaved by my own emotions. I’ve allowed the cacophony of opinions to flood my soul and spirit to the point I felt I was drowning. Thankfully, God has provided my church with a pastor who is one of the wisest men I know. He wonderfully has summed up how every conversation should begin: “Meet me at the cross.”

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No More Feelgood Sermons

Yesterday during at the beginning of his sermon, our Associate Pastor Rev. Pete Belmain made the following declaration:

“I’m sure there are lots of churches up and down this highway giving feelgood sermons. This nation doesn’t need anymore feelgood sermons.”

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Training or Trying

Besetting sin is the one that keeps coming back. You return to it like a dog returns to its vomit, to borrow a phrase from the Bible. That may sound disgusting, but you are disgusted with yourself every time you recommit this particular sin. The problem is you try so hard not to. That is the problem; you’re trying not to instead of training not to.

It takes discipline to live a holy life. The Apostle Paul says we are striving for a crown. We are in a race and there can be only one victor. Victory over sin has already been won; Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross and leaving the tomb empty. So we need to live our lives in such a victory. Even though there can be only one winner in a race, we can experience victory in Jesus if we will commit ourselves to loving and obeying Him. We need to run the race because in the end we have an everlasting crown waiting for us on the other side:

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Sullied Sacrifices

Imagine your loved one giving you a Christmas gift that looked as though it took him or her three minutes to throw together. There was no effort put into getting your gift, no cost or value, no sacrifice of time or resources. Now if it’s your two-year old child doing so, that is cute and heart-warming. If it is your spouse, then you’d be in a heap of trouble.

So why do we give such ungrateful gifts to the Lord our God? Why do we give Jesus the scraps from our table when we’re finished with the day? In some cases, we don’t even do that. The reason is we don’t love our Lord enough. We express our love to one another in the sacrifices we make for each other. To do otherwise is to be guilty of the same sullied sacrifices for which the Prophet Malachi confronted Israel:

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Foolish Heart

A very popular song from the 80’s was Foolish Heart by Steve Perry. Perry is warning his heart against foolishly falling in love, warns his heart that it has “been wrong before, don’t be wrong anymore.”

Many people live their lives as “one and done” if they are hurt in a relationship in order to protect themselves. Perry is wisely recognizing that our hearts can deceive us. We believe we know ourselves and yet Scripture tells us otherwise:

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Cutting Through the Deception

Random House Dictionary defines deception as, “The state of being deceived.” It further defines deceive “To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.” The biggest deceivers in our lives are usually us. I can convince myself that I am living a life pleasing to Christ, all the while going back to a besetting sin like a dog returns to his vomit.

Self-deception is not a 21st Century phenomenon; the Apostle John addressed this delusion from which many in the new church suffered:

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Panic Prayers

Fear is the enemy of faith. My fear can overwhelm me if I’m looking with worldly eyes. When I see the state of my country, I fear for its future. This fear is not unfounded, however, if my fear is calculated without God, then it is unfounded.

Jesus’ disciples were facing a life-threatening moment, one in which all of us would no doubt be fearful. We should be able to totally relate to their fear and nod our heads in understanding, and yet Jesus rebuked them for having little faith:

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A Friend So Faithful

A brother from my church recently shared how his daughter had been told by her best friend that she no longer wanted to be friends. As you can imagine, this young girl’s feelings were greatly hurt. There are few emotions that sting greater than being betrayed or rejected. The pain literally sears our soul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a friend who would never betray, leave, or reject us?

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An Opportunity to Escape

The call of God on the Christian’s life can be frightening. We say we want to serve the Lord, and yet we pray “except” prayers. You know which ones I’m talking about; “Lord, I’ll do anything and go anywhere you want me to except…” You can fill in the rest.

What we don’t realize is that we when refuse His call, we are being disobedient to God. One of the most infamous acts of disobedience in the Bible is that of Jonah. God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against the wickedness of that city. The Bible tells us:

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Excusing Our Unbelief

There are times when my lack of faith turns to unbelief. This means I get to the point in my walk with Christ that I think something is beyond His control. I may try to soften the blow by saying I am lacking faith, but I have actually shifted into the realm of unbelief. I will either demand a sign from God or just head out into the wilderness on my own.

The scribes and Pharisees were notorious for demanding Jesus to show them a sign. The most despicable one is when they mocked Jesus on the cross, demanding He come down from it so that they would believe in Him. Another example is found in Matthew 12:

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Needing More Light

One of the greatest gifts God bestows upon His born-again children is wisdom. Wisdom is portrayed in the Bible as a gift more precious than gold. Wisdom is defined in Ewell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology as “Divine wisdom given by God, that enables humans to lead a good and true and satisfying life; it cannot be derived by human intelligence.”

With all that has happened in our country lately, the days seem devilishly dark. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. Where the church has failed its flock is trying to apply human reasoning and wisdom to issues that can only be solved through heavenly wisdom. Instead of seeking earthly experts, we should be searching for divine discernment:

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Walking in Liberty

Two-hundred and forty years ago today, fifty-six men signed a document that was the equivalent of signing their own arrest warrant. If arrested, these men would be tried for treason, have all their earthly possessions confiscated, and mostly likely be executed.

Why did the signers of the Declaration of Independence decide that liberty was more important than anything else? What motivated these men to “ mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” How did they come to the conclusion that liberty, above all, was worthy dying?

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True Charity

Travis BishopI want you to meet an everyday saint named Travis Bishop. He is a Christian business owner from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Brother Travis saw the devastation brought on by the floods that are ravishing his neighbors in nearby Clendenin. Travis decided to do something about it. Brother Travis has been leading a rescue operation for the past seven days, closing up his business and spearheading an effort to meet the needs of people. You can listen to an interview he did on my friend Tom Roten’s radio show here:

http://tinyurl.com/zp9qlrl

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A Shrinking God

In the past week it has become abundantly clear that the American church is in a state of panic. We are panicking about the outcome of an election that is still over four months away. We are making predictions as though we have eyes into the future. The sad part of all this is these predictions of doom and gloom are the same ones I’ve heard in the last eight years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oswald Chamber once wrote that fear is calculating without God. For some reason, Christians cannot imagine God intervening into the affairs of man, including our elections. It is sad that of all the Founding Fathers who were Christians, it took a non-believer in Benjamin Franklin to remind them of a sovereign God:

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Houses Becoming Hotels

In his first letter at the end of his life, the Apostle Peter left instructions to Christians on how to serve for God’s glory. One area that Peter instructs us was on hospitality. In fact, the Bible puts great value on Christians being hospitable to each other. Why? It is because Jesus said that the world would know Him by Christians’ love for one another. Peter reminds us of that admonition:

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)

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